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WNY Invite Tournament: Bulls split games on final day

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Freshman outside hitter Maria Futey
Paige Miller

The UB Volleyball team lost to West Virginia 3–1 and then defeated Canisius 3–0 on the final day of the WNY Invite Tournament. The Bulls are now 5–4, and in the first three weeks of the season have surpassed their win total of the previous season. #One4Mon

Buffalo looked like they might take the first set from West Virginia, as they pulled ahead 21–18, but three Mountaineer points tied the set. A kill by Buffalo sophomore right side Emma Gielas put the Bulls ahead, but then WV went on a 4–1 run to take the set. Buffalo was soundly defeated 25–15 in the 2nd set, as the Mountaineers hit over 0.400. The Bulls took the third set 25–22, using six kills from freshman outside hitter Maria Futey. This was only the third set all season that West Virginia had lost. The Bulls even had a brief lead in the fourth set at 16–15, but could not hang on and WVU won 25–21.

Throughout the match, Buffalo was bothered by the strong block of West Virginia, who had 13 blocks compared to Buffalo’s 7. The Mountaineers hit 0.256 while Buffalo hit 0.176. Futey led the team with 14 kills (her career high), while sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik had 12 and both Gielas and junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara had 6 kills. Okwara had five blocks, while freshman setter Mandy Leigh had 3 blocks and sophomore middle blocker Olivia DeBortoli had 2. Leigh had 40 assists. Freshman libero Hannah Jacoby had a career high 18 digs, while Futey had a career high 15 digs and senior defensive specialist Kyndal Bacon had 13.

Buffalo ran out to a dominant first set victory over Canisius 25–10, hitting 0.444 in the set. Buffalo went on the take the next two sets by identical scores of 25–21. Buffalo finished the match hitting 0.316, their first time with a hitting percentage over 0.300 this season. Malik lead the team with 17 kills and hit 0.419. DeBortoli had 10 kills (her career high) and hit 0.471. Okwara had 8 kills and hit 0.438.

Leigh had 36 assists and led the team with three aces, all in a row (although the last one was recorded when Canisius was called for an out-of-rotation violation). Jacoby had another very solid defensive performance, leading the team with 17 digs — as far as I know, Jacoby played outside hitter in high school and is just learning the libero position. Leigh and Malik each had 8 digs and Bacon had 7.

Buffalo plays three matches next weekend at the Old Dominion tournament. They will face Norfolk State, Old Dominion and Radford.

Notes:

  • Junior middle blocker Abby Leigh and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Valentic were both unavailable for these matches.
  • Play of the Match™: set point against Canisius in the second set. Jacoby dives to her right to make a diving one handed dig, Leigh scrambles to set the ball, and on the run makes a perfect shoot set to Okwara for the kill.
  • Almost: another Hannah almost went over the scorer’s table chasing a ball down. This was Hannah Jacoby, against Canisius, who ran into the scorer’s table chasing a ball, but was able to stop her momentum before going over the scorer’s table. In 2017, Buffalo’s Hannah Watson actually dove over the scorer’s table saving a ball for the Bulls, making ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays, and it was the play of the decade for the Bulls. If you haven’t watched the video, you should.
  • Fashion update: West Virginia coach Reed Sunahara was well known for wearing Hawaiian shirts untucked when he coached the Bulls in 2014. Today, he wore a standard West Virginia University pullover shirt, but it was untucked.